Moray was a real open air agriculture lab . The Incas cultivated an estimated 70 species of crops, almost as many as the farmers of Europe and Asia combined .Basically , they created an agricultural wonderland.
And they were truly the geniuses of agriculture . Getting a potato domesticated at an altitude of 4,000 ft to grow up at 9,000 ft is a big deal . White, yellow and purple corn . Beans that pop like popcorn. Cereal grains containing twice the protein of wheat, rice or corn. Yellow, pink, red and candy-striped tubers.
One of the most visually stunning Inca ruins were actually very carefully designed fields that sustained the whole community. This was an Incan agricultural laboratory , conducted on an imperial scale.
Maybe they were producing new varieties in case of a crop disease epidemic or global climate change ?
These terraces were scientifically built to form three zones to accommodate three different basic crops, according to their water needs.
Inca’s open-air agricultural research station, the ring structures acted to create a variety of microclimates
Archeologists believe that the Incas developed different strains of maize to withstand the extreme temperature differences of their empire.
There are two major tools available to farmers: acclimatization and breeding. Moray , with several climate zones all packed into one tight area – was a perfect test field for either breeding or acclimatization, or both.
We don’t know for sure what kind of crops these experiments created in Moray, most of it was lost to the world . The conquistadors destroyed all that. To them the Incas were backward, and they forced the Andean natives to replace crops that had held a valued place for thousands of years with European species like wheat, barley and carrots.
The potato had a great success . It revolutionized eating habits across Europe.
Europeans at first considered the potato ”dark, dirty and highly sinister.” It was said to cause leprosy, syphilis and scrofula, the swelling of lymphatic glands, and peasants would starve rather than submit to the orders of kings to cultivate it.
Today the colonized potato is the world’s fourth largest crop after wheat, rice and corn.
How to get to Moray :
Maras, a remote Andean town deep in Peru’s Sacred Valley of the Incas , located between Moray Ruins and Maras Salt Ponds.
Most likely you will be visiting Moray after the Salt mines , which are just 15min drive away .
Maras is dusty and not very tourist friendly. 40 kilometers or just an hour drive from Cusco. You can find plenty of organized tours or hire a taxi .